We present the outcomes of our research on sexual violence against women at the conference in Budapest

Dr. Magdalena Grabowska from STER Foundation presented the preliminary results of our research on sexual violence against women at the conference “Sex and Sexuality in East-Central Europe. Past and Present” which took place on 16-17 October, 2015 at the Central European University in Budapest. The research was conducted within the project „Breaking Taboo – the rights of victims of sexual violence”.

Dr. Grabowska focused on some methodological challenges faced by the research on sexual violence in Poland. Due to the lack of reliable data on sexual violence provided by the state agencies, including police, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and independent researchers become the main providers of data on sexual violence in Poland, including rape crime.

Dr. Grabowska examined the applicability of theoretical concepts and research methodologies on sexual violence developed by western scholars and international agencies into the context of Central and Eastern Europe. She analyzed to what extent existing quantitative and qualitative research methodologies can reveal and/or mask socio-cultural differences in post-state socialist countries. She examined the accountability of the results of the recent Fundamental Rights Agency’s pan European Union’s research on violence against women, according to which Poland is among the countries with the lowest violence rate in the EU (FRA 2014). Meanwhile, the research conducted by STER Foundation in 2015 within the EEA Grants funded project “Breaking Taboo – the rights of victims of sexual violence” shows that every fifth woman in Poland was raped, 21% of the women have had an experience of rape from her current partner, and 63% from the former partner. These preliminary results which bring Poland closer to the “average European” rate of sexual violence against women have been obtained through the applicability of feminist research methodologies and the use of the capacities of non-governmental organizations counteracting violence against women at the local level.

Dr. Grabowska examined also the applicability of theoretical concepts developed by western feminist scholars concerning rape or/ and attempted rape, including Catherine McKinnon’s concept of structural sexual violence, and Peggy Reeves Sanday’s comparison between “rape prone and rape free societies” in the Polish context.

The abstract of dr. Magdalena Grabowska’s paper „Sexual Violence or Sex as Structural Violence? Methodological Approaches and Political Agendas in Research on Sexual Violence in Poland” is available here.